Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Natural Stone Bridge in Hiroshima Prefecture

Diesel Rail-car JR West 120 series travels on the Geibi line

After stopping by Hiroshima City, we visited the northern part of Hiroshima Prefecture. Our destination was Taishaku-kyo Valley in Shobara City.

Taishaku-kyo is an 18 kilometer-long valley along Taishaku River. Our favorite spot is Onbashi, which is a natural limestone bridge over the river. It is 90 meter-long, 40 meter-high and 19 meter-wide, the largest natural bridge in Japan. It is said that Onbashi used to be a limestone cave under the river, but the cave was uplifted later, and changed to a natural bridge since several hundred thousand years before. It is really a big natural bridge.

To visit this natural work of art, the nearest railway station is Tojo on the JR West Geibi line. The Geibi line is a typical local route constructed within a mountainous area. Connecting Hiroshima and Bicchu-Kohjiro, its total length is 159.1 kilometers. The track is single and non-electrified. The gauge size is 1,067 millimeters.

The main fleet on the Geibi line is a diesel rail-car, JR West KiHa 120 series. The 120 series was launched in 1991 to replace the old models, the KiHa 20, 35, and 45 series. It is a 16.8 meter-long small sized rail-car, and often operated alone. Its maximum operating length is 95 kilometers per hour. A total of 89 units were built by Niigata Tekkosho and JR West Goto Factory. 8 units have steel bodies; meanwhile, remaining 81 units have stainless-steel bodies. There are many color variations. They are called Hiroshima, Hamada and Mine colors respectively.

Onbashi natural stone bridge over Taishaku River near Tojo station on the Geibi line